Aston Villa won the first leg of their play-off semi-final against local rivals West Brom 2-1 thanks to two second-half goals from Conor Hourihane and Tammy Abraham.
West Brom took an early lead when Glenn Whelan took his eyes off a simple pass and miscontrolled it, which allowed Dwight Gayle to run through on goal and rifle a shot past Jed Steer.
Moments earlier, Steer had pulled off a fantastic fingertip save to ensure that Jay Rodriguez didn’t find his name on the scoresheet.
Villa, if we’re being honest, were pretty average in the first-half, but they came out all guns blazing in the second and you could sense that a goal was coming for them.
It eventually came in the 75th minute when Jack Grealish played the ball back to Hourihane, who then preceded to rifle an unstoppable shot past Sam Johnstone from just outside the box.
Villa were ahead just four minutes later when Grealish was taken down in the box. Abraham stepped up and sent Johnstone the wrong way to give his team the lead.
Things got better for Dean Smith’s men when Gayle got himself sent off late on, and West Brom’s top scorer will now miss the second leg on Tuesday.
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Anwar El Ghazi
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